Nancy Mace, the first woman to graduate from The Citadel’s Corps of Cadets in 1999, can add state lawmaker to her list of accomplishments.
The Daniel Island Republican defeated her Democratic challenger Cindy Boatwright on Tuesday in a special election for House District 99.
Early results show Mace garnered about 57 percent of the vote compared to Boatwright's 43 percent, according to unofficial results.
On a county-level, Boatwright defeated Mace in Charleston County by a 687-634 tally, with more than 80 percent of precincts reporting. But Mace won big in Berkeley County by a count of 1,432 to 900, according to unofficial returns.
Mace was surrounded by friends and family at her Daniel Island home when she learned she had won.
When Mace is soon sworn into office, she will become the 21st female legislator serving in the S.C. House of Representatives.
Four women now serve in the state Senate.
She will also become the first woman to represent the district, one of the more prosperous zip codes in the region.
"I don’t look at this as a win for me. I look at this as a win for Berkeley and Charleston counties, for the Lowcountry and for the taxpayers of South Carolina. More importantly, it’s a win for substantive solutions aimed at fixing our most pressing issues – infrastructure, the nuclear power plant mess, education and the sustainability and safety of our communities," Mace said in a 595-word statement following her win.
Though neither Mace nor Boatwright has previously served in the Statehouse, Mace is hardly a political novice.
Mace worked as South Carolina coalitions and social media director for Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. In 2014 she ran unsuccessfully against U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
Charleston Democrats say they're not deterred by the night's results.
"This election shows us that Democrats have a good message and know how to move the needle in elections," said county party Chairman Brady Quirk-Garvan.
This was Boatwright's first time running for public office. Repeated attempts to reach her for comment were unsuccessful.
The district covers parts of Mount Pleasant, Daniel Island, the Cainhoy peninsula, Hanahan and Goose Creek.
Voter turnout for the special election was light. Berkeley County elections director Adam Hammons said in the early afternoon the county's 13 precincts were seeing slow but steady foot traffic.
Charleston's four precincts, on the other hand, saw slow and low turnout throughout the morning and the day.
Before polls opened at 7 a.m., Charleston County returned about half the number of absentee ballots it did for the GOP primary in November, according to Joe Debney, director of Charleston County’s Board of Elections and Voter Registration.
Mace fills the seat left vacant by Republican state Rep. Jim Merrill, who resigned his seat before pleading guilty in the ongoing Statehouse probe. Merrill held the seat for 22 years.